Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Archive for November, 2008
But a recipe doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to be delicious and look great. Case in point: Challah French toast stuffed with cream cheese and jam and topped with berries. Regular French toast is a universal favorite, but with just a little extra effort, you can make it exceptional. Even better, this breakfast couldn’t be easier to make and you can even prepare most of the dish the night before.
The economic crisis is creating increased demand at the nation’s food pantries and soup kitchens. At the same time, food banks are suffering from a falloff in donations. How are non-profit food distributors in Northern California dealing with the crisis?
A few months back, I was buzzing around my restaurant, busy as usual, when I was stopped by one of my managers.
“Hey, I need you to get me a black napkin for Angie,” was all he said.
“A blaaaack naaaapkinnnn.” He had slowed he speech down as though speaking to one of his small children. “We’ve got some downstairs with the rest of the linen.”
In the eight years I’d worked at the restaurant, I’d neither seen nor heard tell of such a thing. Why on earth would Angie want a black napkin?
Local chef and restaurant owner Ranjan Dey will share the history and stories of curries from around the world, including the spread and cultural effect of curry in Southeast Asia. Learn about curry and get a chance to sample it as well at this presentation put on by the World Affairs Council Young Professionals International Forum.
A few years ago, I noticed an old, cracked book on the bookshelf of a friend’s mom. As soon as I picked it up, I knew that I had to get my own copy. Herbs, Spices and Flavorings was originally published in 1982 and was written by Tom Stobart. Stobart went on to produce and direct the Master Chef series on the BBC.
The cookbook with the most stains in my collection is also the first one I ever bought: a copy of the 45th printing of the 1975 Joy of Cooking. It helped me survive my teen years, and then it helped me graduate from college with a bit more meat on my bones. I never did upgrade, and that white bible of the American kitchen (complete with its two silky red ribbons) is still my go-to tome for pancakes, muffins, cakes, pies, dinner rolls, dressings, and quick breads. I’m still discovering new foods in its pages. A recent addition to our family favorites is a Tran variation on a Rombauer adaptation of a Davidis classic: German pancake with apples.
Well, now I’ve seen everything. As it was pointed out to me recently, voting Californians care more for the rights of chickens than they do for those of gay men and women. In my bio-degradable peanut-wrapped little world of well-educated, thoughtful, and admittedly left-leaning friends and co-workers, I had previously thought this was all but impossible.
I believed I didn’t know a single person– especially anyone close to me– who would, by touching a button or drawing a little black line to connect an arrow in a voting booth, actively raise a finger to institutionalize discrimination against me, or my sister, or my brother who, in a very real sense, died from internalizing all the hate and ignorance, both spoken and unspoken, that surrounds gay men and women and tells us we are not as deserving of happiness as everyone else. The electorate has demanded that a chicken be allowed the freedom to fully spread its wings and, in the same breath, has seen to it that I am not allowed to fully stretch mine.
Many people seem a bit confused by persimmons. Do you cook them or eat them raw? Are they bitter or sweet? How do you eat them? It seems that whenever I buy some, either the person next to me in line or the cashier quizzically looks over and asks what I’ll do with them. Everyone seems to have heard a story about some brave soul who tried one and was rewarded with a mouthful of astringent yuckiness.
Hands down, one of the most impressive cookbooks this season is A16 Food + Wine. The book is divided into sections on the wines of southern Italy, and a longer section on food served at the restaurant. In the food section it’s particularly helpful to read the introduction to learn about chef Nate Appleman’s approach to cooking Campanian style in San Francisco. A pantry section details the essential ingredients of the cuisine and then, finally, there are the recipes themselves. You’ll find tripe, bruschetta, pickled peppers, roasted sardines as well as pizza and pasta. If you are a fan of this restaurant the book is a must.
I am a true election geek. While most of you have probably been feeling election fatigue, I am sprinting toward the finish line. My interest and excitement has increased as the days go on. Most days, you’ll find me with my iPod on, listening to podcast after podcast of election analysis. I can’t get enough of On the Media, or Fresh Air’s campaign interviews, or the Slate Gabfest. Yesterday, my fun activity for the day was to analyze 85,000 campaign contributors to see what corporations were donating to a cause that upsets me greatly. As someone who has spent a lot of my life thinking about politics, election day is the culmination of watching and participating in months and months of policy discussion, campaign strategy, and grassroots activism.
It didn’t take long to figure out my contribution to an election night potluck: celebratory jiao zi dumplings made with bipartisan dough. Inspiration came from the toothsome, homemade, two-tone dumplings served during a recent 9-course dinner at China Stix
in Santa Clara. The meal, hosted by the Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers, included a hands-on demonstration of dumpling making with owner Frank Chang and his head chef. Tucked in the corner of a nondescript strip mall, the restaurant is nothing much from the outside. Once inside, though, you’ll find some of the best northern-style Chinese food in the Bay Area.
When it’s pouring raining, grim and blustery, cold and dark, and frankly dreadful outside, my idea of the perfect day is one where I’m home, warm and happy. The windows are all steamed up, I put on some good music, and I start baking. And cooking. In fact, I’m happiest if I have about 4 different things going at once.